Introductive writing

Since the earliest times humans have wanted to communicate their thoughts, ideas, views, opinions, histories and visions.

Humans seem to have always had a need or desire to write. Egyptians wrote of battles, business, biographies and love in hieroglyphics 6000 years ago.

Writing makes our thoughts or views more permanent. If words are spoken they may be lost. If they are written they can be read at any time by anyone.

Indigenous people in Australia, Africa and the Americas often wrote their histories and stories pictorially.

Some peoples however, such as the Celtic Druids, distrusted writing and preferred to use oral traditions.

The Bible, Koran, Torah and the writings of Confucius and Buddha are among the earliest writings on spirituality, morality and religion.

The Book of Kells, written around the year 800 AD, is one of the most beautifully illuminated manuscripts in the world.

There are many different styles of writing and many different ways to write.

Sometimes people write for themselves, a very private audience, and at other times the audience is the whole world.

The form of writing you use is influenced by your audience.

Different forms of writing

People write in a variety of styles. Think about writing that appears in a newspaper, in a poem or in a novel.

The writing differs in many ways. It varies in structure, language and complexity. The following activities require you to think about different writing styles.

Firstly, try to identify the different styles of writing in the following table. Then try the following animation.

“…what we need to ascertain is the viability of supply and the possibility of alternative sources of…”

“…as the mountain lilies danced the flamenco to the standing ovation of the grass…”

“…watching Linford Christie win the 100 metres was amazing. I wish you’d been there too…”

“…Next the flange needs to be carefully placed against the flat section of the upper box…”

“…the Minister for Sport and Recreation stated, “this is the greatest event”…”

“…The moon could be seen glinting through the wet trees as Gwen and Louis crawled toward the safety of their car and away from the…”

“…we suggest that the UK government looks carefully toward the future. Every year, an area of forest the size of Scotland is being destroyed by…”

Which words in these samples tell us that the writing is not what it has been labelled? In each case there may be more than one word.

There are many different forms of writing and reasons for writing.

Use the following activity to explore different types of writing and to explore what it is that makes a writer.

Why do writers write

Triggers for writing, Why do writers write?

There is no one reason why people write. Everyone has a different trigger.

It’s too easy to say that so-and-so writes because they are good at English.

Not everybody who’s good at English is a writer. One thing is certain, however; everyone who writes has a trigger.

A reporter writes to inform the public about news; they want to tell people about important, and sometimes unimportant, events.

They may have been brought up in a home where news was discussed.

Some people write because they have a message that they want the world to know about.

Travellers write in journals and diaries to remind them of where they have been and what they’ve seen.

Some people have wonderful imaginations and create swirling images for others to escape into.
Some people write to make others laugh.

What Makes You Write? Take a few minutes to think about what motivates you to write.

It could be to explain an idea, or perhaps to entertain, or to seek action.

You may want to write your ideas down on paper.
Within a newspaper there are a number of different styles of writing.

As well as articles written by journalists you will find advertisements and letters to the editor.

Each of these sections is aimed at a different audience and may be triggered by various motives.

Writing skills

Sometimes it can be difficult to begin writing. Often the best solution is simply that.

Just begin. Put some words on the page; any words.

Write down anything that comes to mind. Don’t forget that you can always rewrite what you have written.

Even the world’s most famous writers have times where they struggle over the words they are putting on paper.

Of course sometimes you will find that your writing flows easily and naturally.

Enjoy this experience but don’t expect that writing will always come to you so spontaneously.

Remember that good writers work very hard at their chosen craft and that all new skills require practice.

Writing is a more considered, deliberate form of expression compared to speech which is often more spontaneous.

It is an opportunity to share your experience with the world. A chance to share your unique viewpoint.

Remember that no one else has your experience; no one else knows what it is like to be you.

No one else can write like you. Also remember that there are stories to tell that only you can tell.

If you are having difficulty writing you might like to ask yourself the questions that follow. These can be used as triggers or prompts for your work.

By answering any of the questions below you will be joining the ranks of some of literature’s finest writers and philosophers who have explored these ideas in depth.

Triggers writing

Many of the world’s most influential people such as Nelson Mandela have used their own experiences as triggers for writing.

If I had one message only to tell the world what would it be?

When have I felt happiest? Saddest? Angriest?

Who has made me feel happiest? Saddest? Angriest?

What is the funniest thing that has ever happened to me?

Who are my heroes. Why?

Who would I least like to be? Why?

If I could be any person or thing, who or what would it be?

If I could create an ideal world what would it be like?

Inspiration for writing can come from many sources. And different writers will use the same source of inspiration in various ways.

Watch the video below and then choose from the different essay topics that follow. Some will appeal to you more than others.

You might choose to write a science fiction essay or an imaginative essay.

Perhaps you feel strongly about the issue presented and would prefer to write in a more serious way about the topic.

Imagine that you are living in India and your homeland is in danger of being swamped by a rising sea. What would life be like for you at this time?

Write about how we, as individuals, can save our planet from environmental disaster.

Write a letter to a person (who is the same age as you) who lives in India or Germany asking them to come up with suggestions on what youth can do to avoid environmental catastrophes.

Write a letter to a senator expressing your concern over rising sea levels.

Write a letter to a friend about your fears about the state of planet earth.

Imagine that you are an alien being scheming to destroy the earth. How would you use water as a tool to destroy the planet?

Imagine that you are a submarine captain exploring the state of the seas.

While you are doing so, you come across the lost city of Atlantis. Describe the city.

Triggers for writing

People provide endless inspiration for writing. When you read the newspaper or watch the evening news you might be struck by an image of a person or a group of people.

These images can be used as triggers for writing. It is interesting to use a photo of a person and to create a story about that person.

Consider what their life might be like. What an amazing sense of perspective is achieved if you can put yourself in the shoes of a person whose life is totally different to your own.

Events and situations are perhaps the most available sources of inspiration for writers.

Memories or photos of significant events in life, when used as triggers for writing, can be sources for very insightful reflective writing.

Nature is another powerful source of inspiration for writers. Think about the wonders found in nature.

Places that people flock to in their thousands. Why do people flock to places like Mount Everest? What is the great attraction?

If you could, would you like to see natural wonders like the Grand Canyon, the Himalayan mountains or the magnificent creatures of the African deserts?

The beauty of nature also lies much closer to home. Take a leaf from the closest tree, look carefully, and there you have the trigger for a piece of descriptive writing.

Combining style

Module 4: story writing, combining styles (alison.com)

Writing is often not able to be categorised into one neat style. Stories sometimes cross over genres.

For example a story may be a comic murder mystery, or you may have a spy thriller set in outer space.

Generally, it is easier to label writing as more one style than another, sometimes this is impossible.

Use the ideas in this multimedia item to write a story that combines science-fiction, mystery and the traditional elements of a spy story.

Comedy

Comedy writing is all around us. Comedy can entertain, educate and enlighten us depending on the style or format used and the message intended by the writer.

We read comedy when we receive jokes via email or when we read books or magazines written in a comic style.

Daily, we find written humour in newspapers that publish cartoons and anecdotes.

We may not be aware of it, but whenever we laugh while watching a movie or a TV show, someone has written a comedy script.

Very rarely when comedy is performed does it happen spontaneously. It is usually scripted.

Comedy takes on numerous forms. Some comedy is very subtle and makes you think about a topic in a different way.

Some comedy may have you belly laughing on the floor in tears. And then of course there is everything in between.

Think about the way a standup comedian makes an audience laugh and compare that to the way comedy is used in popular television situational comedies.

A stand up comedian has to capture the audience’s attention within the first few moments. Often they cannot rely on props or props are minimal.

They have a direct engagement with the audience. Sitcoms, on the other hand, develop characters from episode to episode and there is an ongoing development of the story.

What about street performers? Some comedians don’t even use words to make their audiences laugh.

The famous mime artist Marcel Marceau performed thousands of times without ever uttering one word.

Mr Bean is the modern equivalent and whilst he doesn’t speak he does occasionally grunt!

As you can see there are many different types of comedy.

People from all walks of life use their experiences to write comedy.

Comedy forms

There are many terms that we apply to the various forms of comedy.

Anecdotes are very short amusing stories that are usually true. Lots of magazines like Reader’s Digest pay their readers for submitting anecdotes.

Example:

Old Aunty Betty from Edinburgh had just got the telephone put on.

When she was speaking to her friend Doris down the street one day, she said in frustration:

“I’m going to disconnect the phone because I never seem to get you when I call. I use all the numbers and if I forget one I just put it at the end”.

Can you think of an anecdote?

Wit is the ability to express ideas and words in an amusing manner.

Oscar Wilde (1854 – 1899) an Irish playwright, poet and author, was a master of wit and he is still frequently quoted today.

You might like to search the Internet for some samples of his writing.

Examples:

Mr and Mrs Smith were walking down the street one day with the latest addition to their family.

When their neighbour Mrs Jones said: “Mr Smith, what a beautiful baby!” Mr Smith replied: “Thank you Mrs Jones, if you like I could do the same for you.”

Lady Astor: “Winston, if I were your wife I’d put poison in your coffee.”

Winston Churchill: “Nancy, if I were your husband I’d drink it.”

Parody is a comic imitation of someone or something. Parody is used when comedians make puppets of famous figures and poke fun at them.

Limericks are humorous poems that are five lines long. The first, second and fifth lines rhyme as do the third and fourth lines.

Example:

A jolly old fellow named Hugh,

Was arrested for saying: “Look; snoo!”

“What’s snoo?” They would cry,

And he’d always reply,

“Oh, nothing much; What’s new with you?”

A pun is the humorous use of a word to suggest two or more meanings or the meaning of another word similar in sound.

Examples:

Some people like raw meat on rare occasions.

A carpenter is a shelf made man.

Slapstick is visual humour that relies on boisterous antics to grab laughs.

A classic example of slapstick humour is the old pie-in-the-face routine.

Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft computing systems, was the target of a classic pie-in-the-face prank in Belgium.

Sitcom is an abbreviation for a TV situational comedy. Some sitcoms, like The Simpsons, are animated.

Others, like the world famous series Fawlty Towers draw humour from recounting everyday events.

See how many sitcoms you can think of.

Satire is the use of irony or parody to mock foolish acts and evil in human behaviour.

English Writing Skills AUDIENCE

ALISON English Writing Skills

Module 3: Audience

The audience has a very strong effect on what is written. Writers need to be very clear about who they are writing for, and must tailor their work accordingly.

The audience for whom a piece is being written will determine the language used and the style.

The writing on this map is targeted to a specific audience.

Who might the audience of this map have been?

Any finished piece of writing takes into account the needs of the audience.

In some cases, the writing is accompanied by images or drawings.

Imagine a writer who works for a top car-magazine. The magazine appeals to people with an extensive knowledge of cars, car parts and the car-industry.

Now imagine that the writer is employed by a national newspaper to write an article on the latest brands of cars.

How might the language and style of these two pieces differ?

Think about who the audience is for each piece of writing and how those audiences differ from each other.

Now imagine that the writer uses the money made from these articles to buy a brand new latest model car.

The writer than starts a letter to a friend to tell him about the new purchase.

How might the language in the letter differ from the car magazine article or the article written for the national newspaper?

Think about how the writer changes his style and language for the chosen audience.

To get your message across you must be aware of who will read your writing.

If you don’t, the writing may not do what you want it to.

As well as this, don’t forget that your writing is determined by the message you want to send and your trigger.

Different situations and audiences call for different styles of writing. A political speech differs in tone, language and even presentation to an entry written in someone’s personal diary.

In the same way a journalist and a poet use different techniques and forms to appeal to their readers.

In all cases, the writer must consider who their audience is and then tailor their words to appeal to that audience.

When thinking about your audience begin by asking yourself these two very simple questions:

a) How old is my audience?
b) What is the social background of the audience?

As you write continue to think about your audience. Always remember who you are writing for and this will keep your work fresh and relevant.

It may be helpful to stop at certain times and to review your work in the light of the questions in the animation.

 

(this text is from alison.com)

English Writing Skills, module 3: audience.